Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher has revealed the ‘caring’ side to Dick Advocaat – but admits the players are scared to cross him.
Advocaat was this week confirmed as the Black Cats’ head coach for next season after the Dutchman performed a huge U-turn and committed to the club.
Fletcher, who got a good run of games under the 67-year-old at the end of the season, is happy that the experienced boss will be returning to the Stadium of Light.
And he has given an insight into what makes Advocaat tick – and the respect the players have for him.
Fletcher said: “You don’t want to step out of line because he’ll be the first one to tell you to get back in line, but he’s a caring manager as well.
“He cares if you make mistakes, but he tells you if you’re going to make them, make them on the training pitch.
If you have someone like that filling you with confidence, that’s great.Steven Fletcher
“If you have someone like that filling you with confidence, that’s great.”
Fletcher was suffering from a confidence crisis when Advocaat arrived in March, having failed to hit the net since a brace against Crystal Palace in November.
But his form picked up under Advocaat’s influence, and he finally got back on the scoresheet with a goal in the last game of the season at Chelsea.
It was the game before that, however, against Arsenal where Sunderland secured survival that showed the Scot how much he liked playing under Advocaat’s style of football.
As a second-half substitute, Fletcher had several chances to score and although he couldn’t take any of them, it was a boost to his confidence.
“I got more chances in that Arsenal game than I’d had all season,” said Fletcher.
“He (Advocaat) likes to get forward a lot and that suits us with the players we’ve got. [He came at the right time] for me and the club.
“With the injuries I’d had, I was low on confidence, in and out the team, not really playing.
“Then he came in and started playing me – and I got another injury, which didn’t exactly help.
“But the last few games of the season he was telling me just to keep going and I’d get my chance.”
Fletcher was speaking on international duty with Scotland, where he will come up against the man who splashed out £12million on him, Martin O’Neill, on Saturday.
O’Neill, now in charge of Republic of Ireland, brought Fletcher to Wearside from Wolves, and the striker will always be grateful to his old boss.
“He was great for me,” Fletcher said. “I enjoyed working with him in the short time I did.
“He gave me self-confidence. He’s a really good man manager, as well as on the training pitch. He took you aside and spoke to you, filled you with confidence.
“When I picked up the injury with Scotland I remember him phoning me and saying ‘please tell me you haven’t...’ But I was out for six months and he got the sack before I came back. I was really disappointed with that because obviously he showed a lot of faith in me by paying so much money for me.”